WordPress and social media go together well–there are plenty of plugins to help with social sharing and social profile display. But how do actual WordPress consultants, the people you’re hiring to build your site, use social media? And what do they recommend for their clients?
Social Media for WordPress Consultants
Personally, I’m one of those weird people who avoids Facebook. I used to spend a lot of time on LinkedIn, and because I was active in the main WordPress group there, I got hired as the technical reviewer for WordPress: The Missing Manual. Once I finally gave in and started using Twitter, I spent less time on LinkedIn. I follow a lot of WordPress people on Twitter, and through conversations with them I’ve gotten a few referrals. I don’t mainly use Twitter to look for work or connect with clients, though I follow my clients on Twitter if they use it.
I still have recruiters contact me through LinkedIn. Most of them are looking to hire for full-time positions, and I pass the jobs on to the East Bay WordPress Meetup mailing list. And I rather liked Google+, but it turned into something of a ghost town, and I don’t spend a lot of time there.
These days I actually spend the bulk of my time on Slack, most notably in the GenesisWP Slack Community. (I belong to the main WordPress Slack team, but it’s such a firehose that I don’t usually sign into it, and also to the teams for the Sacramento WordPress Meetup, the San Francisco WordPress Meetup, OfficeHours.fm, Gravity Forms, and WP Developers Club. There’s a Slack team for the WP-Tonic podcast hosts, panelists, and guests.) Activity on Slack is not publicly discoverable the way it is on Twitter, but I’ve found that it’s a great place to get help from my colleagues when I run into a problem, and to get to know people I might want to collaborate with. (I met the front-end dev for the NowSecure project on Slack.) Some of the networking-with-colleagues that used to happen on Twitter has moved to Slack, but not all of it.
A Slack team like GenesisWP can be a source of referrals and business–there are a lot of people on that team and a channel specifically dedicated to paid gigs. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about looking for work there or in any other social network. Don’t just show up and start asking for work before anyone has had a chance to get to know you. Introduce yourself, answer questions, share useful information, and learn who the other people are. Then you can mention what you’re looking for in the appropriate channel (which will probably be called paid-gigs or something like that). And only in the appropriate channel. Not by private message to every member of the group, or in every channel. That kind of behavior is more likely to get you banned than to get you work.
(Okay, end of rant that’s not actually directly taken from the panel discussion.)
I use Jetpack’s Publicize feature to share my posts–both here on my WP Fangirl blog and on my personal blog–on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. I have also re-posted some of my posts on Medium and on LinkedIn. And I use Tweet Wheel to re-surface older articles that people might not have seen yet. (I try to keep the material in that queue evergreen, rather than recycling ALL my older posts.) Even if I published on this blog much more often, I’d still want to use something like Tweet Wheel.
My fellow WP-Tonic panelists are all on Twitter and fairly active there. Kim uses Twitter Cards extensively and teaches her students to use them.
If you produce a podcast (or appear regularly in one), make sure you have good cover art that’s easily shared on Instagram and Pinterest. (Indeed, one good reason for choosing featured images for your blog is to make posts easier to pin, though so far I have mainly used Pinterest for fun, myself.)
Content curation–sharing other people’s content–can also help you establish expertise. My favorite podcast, For Immediate Release, uses a service called GaggleAMP to encourage listeners to share content. I share these items on Twitter a couple of times a week and they get more likes and retweets than most of what I post for myself. Jackie, Kim and I agree that it’s important to actually read content before sharing it. Adding your own quote to someone else’s tweet rather than just retweeting it increases the likelihood that your followers will actually engage with the content.
Social Media Plugins for WordPress
There are more of these than you can shake a stick at, but some of the plugins we’ve used for ourselves and/or our clients are:
- Social Warfare ($29/year)
- Social (free and paid)
- Jetpack (free)
- Scriptless Social Sharing (free)
- WPSSO and its various extensions (free and paid)
Social Media Recommendations for Clients
- Don’t use your Facebook page as your website, unless you are just starting out and can’t afford a website yet. It’s too vulnerable to Facebook’s changing rules and algorithms. Your website is the hub and your social networks are the spokes.
- Most small businesses and individuals aren’t in a position to be active on all the available social networks. Choose two or three that work for you and for your clients and prospects. (If your customers are using Twitter to make customer service requests, you need to be there.) Then spend time really developing a network.
- Don’t build your whole business around one social network, especially if it’s new and trendy but hasn’t proven that it’s going to last. You risk getting the rug pulled out from under you in cases like Twitter’s change to its API for third-party developers or Blab’s overnight disappearance.
- Don’t delegate your social media accounts to an intern who knows nothing about your business. Just because someone is young and uses social media to communicate with friends doesn’t mean s/he knows how to manage a professional account. Hire someone experienced and make sure they understand the goals, values, and culture of your business–and your clients or customers–before they start.
- You can automate posting, but not engagement. Your interactions on social media need to be real. Pause your automatic posting for at least a day or two in the event of a big tragedy or polarizing news story. You’ll save yourself a lot of embarrassment.